Friday, April 30, 2010


Is there anything more embarrassing than getting home from running errands and changing out of your spotless white jeans THEN realizing you have been sashaying all over town wearing hot pink underwear? I'm mentally making a list of all the places I've been.... ugh.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aha moment

Day 10? 9? 14? of the cleanse/diet. I had an a-ha! moment last night when, as I stared at a loaf of forbidden bread, that I really would rather work out than diet. So, I'm going to finish up the next 5? 6? 1? days and then I'm going to throw this crap out and buy a summer pass to our local pool.

In other news, Dagny is making her First Communion this weekend at church. She is first in line... will literally be leading the other children in and then, later, up to Communion. No, not 'cause she's such a great leader. Because she is teeny tiny and they're lined up by height. It's going to be a lovely day, but extremely hectic. Our priest told us last night that this is the largest Communion class our parish has ever had - 50 kids! Multiply than by, let's say, 12 family members in attendance per kid = 600 people just for the class. Plus the rest of the parish. Someone told me yesterday at practice that they're literally packed into the church, through the vestibule and into the choir loft. Yeah, someone's going to be left standing the whole time (most likely Mr. J outside with Anders).

But as Msgr. said last night, it doesn't matter where you are sitting (or standing), it's all about the kids. Amen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How I Met Your Father

(This post is for a link back to Kelly's Korner where she is doing a "How I Met My Spouse" day.)

For five years in the early 90s, my (future) husband and I lived in the same town, hung out at the same bars, went dancing in the same clubs, liked the same bands and never met each other.

Then he moved to San Francisco and eventually Budapest, Hungary with no intention of ever returning to the Tampa area. I, meanwhile, continued to hang out in the same bars, same clubs, with the same people, while working in the staffing industry and then, eventually, in HR for a tech company.

Then, as fate would have it, my Mr. ended up deciding to go to law school and so moved home to take the LSATs. He decided to make some extra cash by working a temp job... at my company.

It was absolutely, 100%, no-doubt-about-it, love at first sight. In fact, after the interview (of course I hired him!) I sent his resume over to a friend of mine with a cover sheet that read: "I'm going to marry this guy!" (Haha, said Teresa. You can't date coworkers, remember?)

Despite my company's "no dating" policy we snuck around for about 6 months before he left to start law school. Fast forward one year and we were indeed engaged. Fast forward 1o and here we are married with two kids.

I do believe in love at first sight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bravo Talbots!

In late breaking fashion news, three cheers for Talbots for completely revitalizing their look!! Their spring collection? A. Ma. Zing. I've always shopped at Talbots, but in the last few years have stuck with basics like tshirts and chinos (items that I used to buy at J. Crew before they decided their target market was anorexics/winos/uninterested in hairbrushes). But their new line is soooo cute. Although much more dressy, the new Talbots stuff kind of reminds me of the new LLBean Signature and Land End Canvas lines. They are a little more polished & pretty than the everyday stuff.

I'll take one of everything, please! Especially this dress. I can so totally rock that color.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chew on this

Day Two of the Cleanse is DONE. This method of diet control is extremely hard if you like food. My general plan for this week:
A.M. - "Energy" beverage 30 minutes before breakfast
Breakfast - 1 c. oatmeal w/ berries; "cleansing" tea
Snack - Yucky little fake-chocolate chewy things that TOTALLY kill the munchies
Lunch - Protein shake, cleansing tea (this is hard. I want a sandwich.)
Snack - Bunch o' random veggies or some grapes
Dinner - Healthy meal w/ protein & veg
Before bed - More tea!!

Also about 63,000 glasses of water.

My take away so far:
1) I'm not really that hungry. All that liquid and the protein shakes fill me up (not necessarily satisfying, but at least I'm not starving) and they don't taste completely horrible.

2) The "cleansing effect" has been very mild. No nastiness. But I do feel a lot better! My skin is freaking out, but I understand that is normal when you're body is detoxing.

3) I don't crave anything except sugar. Oh how I want a piece of cake; ice cream; whipped cream. I'm in severe withdrawal and am contenting myself with looking at pictures of desserts on Tastespotting.

4) Despite my fears, I've had no problems giving up coffee at all! Surprise, surprise! I've not missed it, I haven't had headaches, I don't feel draggy. In fact, I think I have even more energy! I've already estimated if I can stay caffeine free we'll save about $30 a month at the grocery on coffee.

5) I could never do this more than a week. I'm hoping it gives me just the kick start I need to get a more healthy diet in place and most importantly, kick the sugar habit. I fully admit I'm dependent on desserts, my sweet tooth is my downfall, and I need to change!

So basically, I think this has been a good idea. It's really got me thinking about what I eat, what I want to eat, how I want to look and feel, how I've become a classic "comfort eater". Pretty unusual for someone who isn't usually introspective, even about their food.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Their loss, my gain

Mr. J is out of work! He lost his job on, no kidding, April Fools Day. At first he DID think it was a joke - enough so to ask, "Is this for real?" but alas, it was.

We're OK with it though. The managing partner was totally squirelly and was making life hard for Mr. J and the other non-equity partner anyway. So we've spent the last few weeks finding a good search firm, redoing his resume and hanging out A LOT with the kids. If you're going to lose your job you might as well do it during primo beach weather.

Also? In the last 2 weeks he has cleaned windows, hung curtains, watched the kids for hours while I run errands and, today, he's putting up the F-E-N-C-E!! At long last! So I can't say I'm totally sorry he's out of a job. At least for now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On second thought....

I don't want to know how those "supermoms" do it all... then I could no longer claim ignorance.

There is an article going around from Yahoo! News about "why we can't do three things at once" which was clearly written to make my husband, personally, feel better about himself.

It has nothing at all to do with Moms, or I dare say, parents in general whether you are a mom or dad. If you have a kid you had BETTER be able to do a lot more than three things at once. Not that I'm saying you always have to, but in crunch times? Like right now as I blog in 3 minutes of "downtime" before I have to race out the door to school, while I supervise the kids putting on their backpacks, referee their argument about mechanical pencils, stop Dagny from trying to eavesdrop on my post, and I do a last minute check to make sure no one has toothpaste on their face, has brushed their hair and, dear God, am I wearing a bra? Yeah. I'm multi-tasking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

English impatient

I spend Wednesday mornings volunteering in Dag's second-grade class. I like the gig -- it gives me a reason to do my hair (and maybe makeup) and get relatively dressed up at least once a week. By relatively I mean instead of my usual uniform of tee-shorts-flipflops, I wear a tee-skirt-sandals. And by makeup I mean blush and lip gloss.

Anyway, it's a win-win for her teacher and I. Her teacher needed someone to help with the kids during school Mass on Wednesdays, then help with their Daily Language (aka Grammar) and I was looking for a way to spy on spend more time with Dagny.

It's also afforded me tons of time to observe other people's children which in turn helps me make better parenting decisions. And also helped me decide to relax my snack options for the kids just a smidge. A girl should have some fun -- and store-bought granola bars -- once in a while! And I decided that the occasional juice pouch wouldn't hurt either.

It has also made me realize I'm pretty much just as impatient in a classroom as I am at home. I really, really, really gotta work on that! I'm fine with the kids who have their hand in the air, ready with an answer, stay on task and/or make funny, unintentional jokes. I'm not so fine with the slacker kid who clearly isn't even trying, or who isn't listening, or asks to go to the bathroom four times an hour. (Maybe I should try to find out why?Nah.)

So props to all our great teachers, patient teachers, teachers who love their job -- and man, whether you teach at P.S.136, private school, Harvard or homeschool, it's a job you better LOVE -- and teachers who know how to reach any kid. The rest of us? Better off volunteering as needed and then going home to thank our lucky stars that we have teachers in the first place.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring cleaning

I am spring cleaning next week... not your usual closet-carpet-baseboard spring clean; I'm doing a nice, natural 7-day internal cleanse. (TMI? Sorry! Just wait until next week as I journal this thing!)

I've actually been meaning to do it for about a month, but we had a couple of dinner parties to go to and I didn't want to have to show up and then only drink my "special" tea. And then I didn't want to start right before Easter 'cause, well, I know this is just another excuse but let's sum it up in three words: chocolate, coconut, ham.

And then before that I was in the middle of my yearly battle against the dreaded Live Oak Pollen and my allergies left me feeling so awful I knew I couldn't stick to a diet. And then this past week I had a horrible sinus infection/chest cold and although it would have been the perfect time to cleanse since I wasn't eating hardly anything anyway, I didn't think that "gentle cleansing ingredients" would mix well with my 24/7 diet of NyQuil.

I'm mostly better now though and ready to face the Challenge! Starting Monday!

Some of the restrictions of the 7-day Cleanse are:
  • No wheat
  • No sugar
  • No dessert!
  • No dairy
  • No Dessert!!
  • No added oils
  • No DESSERT!!!
  • and, most challenging of all, No Caffeinated Beverages!!!!!&*^^@^*!
I can handle all of those things - even dessert! - but coffee? That's just scary. To help my system get ready, I have cut back from my usual six cups in the a.m. to a more human two. It hasn't been fun. I'm definitely in withdrawal and my stomach is wrecked, but I haven't had any of the other more scary side effects like lack of energy, splitting headaches, or the urge to kill. Maybe it's the tempering effects of all the leftover Easter candy I've been scarfing. (My diet for the last week has been limited to decongestants, Mucinex, NyQuil and chocolate bunnies. See why I need to cleanse?)

Anyway, I'm planning my menu for next week very carefully so that I can be sure to have all the ingredients on hand to make the foods I am allowed to eat - which is pretty much all the chicken, fish, oatmeal, vegetables and fruits I want. I think I can have polenta too -- which means I should be able to eat grits (although without the addition of heaping handfuls of sharp cheddar and/or sausage and/or shrimp).

Oh, and I can eat eggs. And all nuts except peanuts, which aren't my favorite anyway. So really it's a pretty good diet. Lots of variety.

But the no coffee thing? Eeeek.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Au bon pain

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to bake all -- or most -- of our bread from scratch. Pretty big goal! And up to now I had been doing GREAT. I've been making 1-2 loaves of regular bread a week, supplemented by a batch of bagels or English muffins here or there. I did end up having to buy Anders his must-have Nature's Own Honey Wheat, because trying to force a picky three-year-old to eat Artisan Bread is not my idea of Big Fun.

However, when I made the resolution it was January. And then we had the Mother of All Winters here when heating the oven to 500 a few times a week was no big deal because the house was barely 60 anyway. But now. Now it is summer! Today it is 90. The house is barely holding at 78 without running the a/c (I can't bear to put it on in April). Heating the oven to 500 would turn it into a sauna and/or steam room. And this is just April. I don't even want to think about baking bread in August.

So, like many resolutions, it looks like this one will be abandoned too, at least until the fall.


On the upside, it did give me freedom to head over to Whole Foods and indulge my inner carb addict with loaves of crusty sourdough (which I can't make to save my very life), cranberry-walnut boules, ciabatta and yummy yummy whole wheat baguettes.

And I also found this:

The Vosges Barcelona Bar - deep milk chocolate*, hickory smoked almonds and fleur de sel. The Trifecta!

*Deep milk chocolate = 45% milk chocolate. So creamy. Perfectly balanced chocolate. It will change your mind about dark chocolate, I swear! I've been off that wagon for more than a year.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My soapbox is a lunchbox

One of my pet peeves is school lunch. I make Dagny her lunch 4 out of 5 days a week (she's allowed pizza on Fridays if she has good behaviour all week) because the small Catholic school she attends, while excellent on the academic front, has a truly abysmal lunch program. I've talked with the principal a few times, but she says it all comes down to three things: money, volunteers to man the cafeteria/cooking/serving lines, and what the kids will eat. I'm sure that's the standard response whether you are in public school or private. It's true; getting kids to eat well can be tricky. Paying for it straps the parents. And getting volunteers for anything is nearly impossible.

Enter Jamie Oliver and his glorious, amazing Food Revolution. If you haven't seen his new show, and have previously been turned off by his Food Network programs, I urge you to reconsider and check it out (Friday nights, ABC, check your local listings). What he is attempting to do is truly revolutionary: he is overhauling the school lunch program for a school district in Huntington, WV -- a town that has the current title of the Unhealthiest Place in the US. And not only is he attempting to get the kids to eat real, freshly prepared food, he's also attempting to change the mindset of the community. A community that currently considers french fries a vegetable. A community that didn't even have utensils for the children to use - all the food was "finger food." A community where the Kindergarten kids he visited couldn't identify 90% of the fresh vegetables he showed them -- including tomatoes. A community where the mom of a family he visited -- a family where every member was obese -- admitted that she served fried or fast food for every meal.

Obviously, he's meeting some resistance and I'm sure there are even a fair number of viewers (Hi Mom!) who consider him arrogant and bossy and that the schools have more to worry about than if the kids are eating properly, you know what with drop-out rates, test scores, social problems, etc. But I say let him try! (He attempted the same makeover in the UK and it is a resounding success, with students grades way up, less illness, etc.) At the very least, it will ensure that the kids are getting at least one nutritious, balanced, fresh meal a day. In the best case, families in Huntington will start eating better and eating together and everyone will benefit.

It's a great concept. I hope it works. In the meantime, I'm "homeschooling" my kids when it comes to food, cooking, eating healthy, and making good food choices. I'm lucky that I had parents that thought mealtimes were important. I'm lucky that I am able to afford quality fresh ingredients (I'm sure some people would disagree, I think everyone can do this -- some people will always make bad, uneducated choices and the children certainly do suffer for it. But COME ON, you can't tell me that anyone thinks a box of snack cakes is a better choice than an apple.) And, although creating and packing school lunches can be time consuming, thankless, and frustrating, I'm happy to be able to do it.

My six rules:

1) If you're going to allow snacks, make sure the kids have healthy snack options. Get the processed foods* out of their - and your - life now!
2) Portion control
3) A vegetable and/or fruit of some sort every single night - sometimes this is as easy as iceberg lettuce or mandarin oranges. Sometimes I serve TWO veggies. Sometimes it's just apple slices or carrot sticks. But I do it every night.
4) Buy whole foods whenever possible. My kids know what carrots look like with the greens on; they've seen a whole watermelon; they know that fruit doesn't come from a can; they LOVE the Farmer's Market. (Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with buying a convenient prepared cup of mixed melons and berries. I'm saying do BOTH.)
5) Let your kids help in the kitchen! My sis was amazed when Dagny picked up a whisk like a pro to whip up some hot fudge sauce. (She knows all about ganache, egg washes, and proofing dough.)
6) Make it homemade as much as humanly possible. It's not about convenience -- it's about survival. I want my kids to be able to provide a nutritious homemade meal for themselves, their friends, their future families. I get a real kick when I hear my kids ask "Is this homemade?" when they eat something.

*Full disclosure: Anders is a very picky eater and has a thing about Ritz crackers. I know one day they won't be considered a whole food group at our house, but until then I will buy them. I did however, wean them from processed, sugary breakfast cereals. And they haven't seemed to miss them at all!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Welcome spring, er, SUMMER!

And just when we thought winter would never end here in sunny Florida, Easter weekend we magically went from chilly- still-wearing-fleece spring to dead hot SUMMER. We left for Easter weekend with long sleeves and sweaters and came back yesterday and had to turn on the a/c. Love it.

No kidding. I do love it. It's so nice to feel the warmth of the sun again. I'll love it for at least another 30 days (or until I get my first electric bill) before I start complaining.

And thank goodness that, now that Easter has passed, all the major candy-centric occasions are behind us until next October. Dags & Anders are way more into collecting candy than actually eating it -- which explains why their "special" candy from last Halloween is still in the treat basket. So I give them until Memorial Day to eat it, then whatever is still around gets pitched. Except of course for any remaining "special" peanut butter confections, which get pitched into my tummy.

The kiddos have been on Spring Break all week so we have been enjoying the beach, sleeping "in" (6:45 for Anders), afternoon movies, and staying up a wee bit later so I can read the first Harry Potter to them before bedtime. Lovely! Next Monday we're back to routines, schedules, snacks and lunches (>shudder<) but for now, we relax!